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Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis dropped by $0.79 to $136.74 per tonne.

Premium hard coking coal index prices fob Australia’s DBCT port also fell, down by $0.63 cents to $127.70 per tonne.

The price for hard coking coal stood at $125.42 per tonne cfr Jingtang, up by $0.21 on the day. The index price for hard coking coal fob Australia also edged higher, up by $0.80 to $115.86 per tonne.

Prices are at their lowest levels since the first quarter of 2009, analysts from Standard Bank said in a note on Wednesday.

“One potential piece of good news is that Indian hot rolled coil prices have moved up by $5-17 this month, which may see improved coking coal demand,” the analysts said.

Offers are plentiful in the market, but demand remains weak, market sources told Steel First. They considered premium Australian brands tradable at $135-138 per tonne cfr China and second-tier hard coking coal at $124-127 per tonne cfr China.

“I think it’s difficult for the prices to fall another, say, $5 per tonne, but the downward trend could be prolonged. If steel mills and coking plants don’t increase their stock levels, the market will not go up,” a trading source said.

The source added that customers were only buying in smaller volumes.

The most-traded May coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 927 yuan ($152) per tonne on Wednesday, up from Tuesday’s close of 917 yuan ($150) per tonne.

The most-traded May coke contract on the same exchange closed 3 yuan ($0.49) higher at 1,324 yuan ($217) per tonne.

Separately, preliminary Chinese customs data released on Wednesday showed that China exported 740,000 tonnes of metallurgical coke in January, down from 750,000 tonnes in December last year.

The country’s total coke shipment volumes in 2013 stood at 4.67 million tonnes, up from 1.02 million tonnes recorded in 2012.